What Are The Common Issues That Couples Bring to Relationship Counselling?

Relationships are never easy and all relationships go through difficult periods from time to time. Common issues that couples present to couples counselling include:

  • Frequent arguing or lack of communication,
  • Inability to reach a specific decision,
  • Infidelity,
  • Feelings of jealousy and insecurity within a relationship, and
  • Reluctance to commit to the relationship.

One of the hardest things we do as humans is be in relationship with a single partner. These relationships are fraught with periodic difficulties that may be rare occurrences or may be frequent problems. While every marriage and committed relationship has its own unique issues and problems, there are several concerns that couples commonly bring to relationship and couples counselling:

1. Why Do We Argue All the Time?

Arguments are not an uncommon phenomena in relationships, and can be very healthy if they help to reveal and resolve disparities in thinking, values and emotions. More often however, couples find themselves whining and yelling at each other in a way which closes off communication. The person yelling has trouble articulating how they really feel, and the person being yelled at has trouble listening. Caught in a heated argument, couples often feel frustrated, hurt, angry and unloved.

Indeed, arguments often have their seeds in feelings of frustration, anger and simply not heard by our partner. Frustration comes from not feeling like our needs are being met, we are not being heard and we are spinning our wheels. We feel as if we are not accomplishing anything by talking calmly and soon we are on our way to an argument.

When we feel frustrated, this feeling frequently turns into anger. The underlying emotion of anger is fear – fear that we will never find our way out of the frustration, fear that something about us is about to be revealed that we do not want shown, fear that we might have different values from our partner, or fear that our partner will abandon us. It is very easy to fall into the habit of becoming angry the moment we become frustrated and this is a very bad habit.

Sometimes our feelings of frustration develop during periods of stress, such as a heavy workload, financial difficulties, or the birth of a new baby. At these times, minor annoyances can become the fuel for feelings of substantial dissatisfaction within a relationship: things like leaving out the butter, not cleaning up, or back seat driving can infuriate us. These minor issues simmer at the surface ready to explode into an argument. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors Sydney)

Couples who find themselves in a frequent cycle of arguments need to take action to lessen conflict within the relationship and develop better and kinder ways of communicating with one another. Taking the time to listen carefully and calmly to each other and learning to respect each other’s needs will create a calmer and more loving environment in which your relationship can flourish and where you can start enjoying each other again.

2. My Partner and I Never Talk Anymore

Sometimes negative communication patterns such as constant bickering or arguments are not the problem in a relationship – because you and your partner are hardly communicating at all. This happens when one or both parties in a relationship react to their relationship problems by avoiding them, by closing off from one another and not talking. This lack of communication forces the couple to retreat from one another and causes an emotional void to develop between them. Whilst couples in this situation might never argue, their problems are generally left unresolved and their capacity to connect with each other in an intimate and meaningful way becomes threatened. Couples in this situation often report feeling lost and lonely in their relationships.

Couples therapy with a qualified couples counsellor or psychologist can help to restore lost intimacy and get a couple communicating again in a positive and connected way.

3. Help! We Can’t Make An Important Decision!

Sometimes a couple has a very strong and secure relationship, but they have a particular decision to make which they can’t seem to agree on. Common problem decisions include:-

  • whether or not to get married?
  • whether or not to have a baby?
  • where to live? (This can be especially problematic if one partner is from interstate or overseas, or if one partner has been offered work in a different city),
  • how to deal with inlaws?

Many couples who have hit a problem decision such as the ones listed above can be helped with only a few sessions with a relationship counsellor to help them talk through their desires, doubts and concerns about a particular decision, and to help them reach compromise. This can be an excellent way to ensure transparency in the decision making process and aid against underlying or latent tensions about the decision that might otherwise pop up and cause arguments in the future. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors Sydney)

4. What Do I Do If My Partner Cheated On Me?

Infidelity can be a tremendous tear in the fabric of a relationship. The trust of the person who was cheated has been violated and betrayed and the person who had the affair will usually experience feelings of guilt and anger. When a couple who have experienced infidelity come in for relationship or couples counselling, forgiveness and the rebuilding of trust are major issues that need to be addressed. Couples counselling is an opportunity to examine how trust has been violated in the relationship and how it can be rebuilt. It is also a chance to look at the underlying reasons as to why the affair happened in the first place.

Relationship therapy is also the place where couples can talk in a safe and calm environment about the feelings that have arisen as a result of the infidelity. Talking at home without the mediation of a trained couples counsellor can often result in arguments, slammed doors or silence, especially when people are feeling emotionally wounded and angry. Talking about your feelings in the sanctuary of a relationship counsellor’s office allows for the full expression of hurt, anger and betrayal without being afraid of not being heard or that larger arguments will erupt.

One of the issues that may be raised in relationship counselling after an affair is whether or not the relationship can be salvaged and continued. It is possible for a couple to overcome an affair and resume a positive and fulfilling relationship. However, some couples discover that an affair is a symptom of a larger problem that they really have no desire to mend or repair. If this is the case, then a couples counsellor or psychologist can help mediate a separation and make an effort for a couple to end the relationship in a healthy manner.

5. How Do I Deal with a Jealous Partner?

One of the issues commonly presented in relationship counselling is that of jealousy. Jealousy can drive a wedge between a relationship, especially if the jealousy causes the jealous partner to become neurotic or controlling of the other.

Jealousy is usually caused by feelings of insecurity on the part of the person who is jealous – either they feel insecure about the relationship, their partner or themselves. Sometimes feelings of insecurity within a relationship may be well founded, and caused by specific behaviour of the other partner. In these circumstances, relationship counselling may provide an excellent opportunity to examine the behaviours that are leading to the jealous feelings.

More often than not however, jealous feelings are caused by inherent and deeply held insecurities of the person who experiences the jealousy. In these circumstances, the person is likely to feel jealous and fearful no matter what their partner does or doesn’t do and the couples counsellor may suggest individual counselling to work specifically with the underlying causes of a person’s jealousy. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors Sydney)

If jealousy remains an issue for a couple, the therapist or psychologist can help the couple find ways to support each other and join closer together to reinforce feelings of security for both people in the relationship.

6. Why Do I Feel Like My Partner Has One Foot Out the Door?

Commitment issues are another topic that many couples seek help with from a professional relationship counsellor. The reasons for commitment issues can be wide and varied, but very often, at their core, they have to do with fear of what will happen if a commitment is really and truly made to the relationship. In order to help with these issues, a relationship counsellor may ask about beliefs and experiences related to previous relationships, including how relationships in your family of origin were treated and how well they worked.

In some cases, the reason for our reluctance to commit is rooted in what we observed in our families growing up. In other cases, we may be reluctant to commit because we are happy with the relationship as it is and we are afraid that if we change it, the relationship will become something that makes us unhappy or there will be expectations of us that we do not want – for example an expectation to suddenly become a “wife” or “husband” or that there is an automatic expectation to become parents.

The goal of relationship counselling is to determine if there is an issue regarding commitment or if this is a perception that is based in assumptions. Once this has been determined, then the counsellor, psychologist or therapist will help you decipher and tease out methods to become more secure in the relationship.

Alternatively, in some cases, there truly is an issue with commitment and then relationship counselling may come down to making a choice of whether or not to accept the situation as it is or decide that a commitment in the form you want or need is necessary. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors Sydney)

Where Do I Go To Get Relationship Counselling?

Above is a brief discussion of several issues that are commonly brought to couples therapy, but these are not the only issues that can be discussed in relationship counselling. If you and your partner are struggling to resolve problems or decisions in your relationship or you want to learn how to connect more deeply and emotionally, you may find that talking with a professional couples counsellor, psychologist or therapist may be helpful. For more information or to schedule a consultation with a qualified counsellor, contact Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors Sydney.